Since the fall semester went entirely online, many campus programs and organizations have scrambled to make the shift to a virtual environment. UP’s Campus Ministry is among those who have completely redesigned their approach to the fall 2020 semester. This semester, Campus Ministry’s main program, the One Body Initiative, will include a variety of new ways for UP students to connect and grow in their faith, either from their homes in Portland or across the country.
Prior to the pandemic, Campus Ministry had a large focus on building community through their faith events. Although online interaction can make developing a close community difficult, Director of Campus Ministry Fr. Jim Gallagher still intends to make it a key part of their online program.
“Each year we have a scripture quote that we use as a focus for what we are pursuing,” Gallagher said. “The whole idea of the name of the One Body Initiative comes from a scripture quote in 1 Corinthians that talks about how there may be no divisions in one body. When one suffers, we all suffer, when one celebrates, we all celebrate.”
The One Body Initiative will be mostly carried out in a small group setting where students can choose an area of their faith that they are most interested in developing throughout the semester. These small groups will be used mainly for interaction among students and their leaders, with more informational material and teaching being done outside of the Zoom space.
“We really wanted to reserve the small group meetings as the spaces where you talk to one another and can see everyone’s faces and get person to person interaction,” Gallagher said. “Outside of that space, we will be providing students with content to root them in their faith that they can engage with on their own time.”
Many of the small groups that make up the initiative will be led by student leaders. Sophomore Hailey Colman will be one of those leaders in the upcoming semester. Colman is looking forward to students’ return to campus when these communities will be able to continue growing and developing in-person.
“One of the things that I am most excited for when we start these small groups is the opportunity to find both a community for myself and for the other people,” Colman said.
In addition to a focus on community, the One Body Initiative will also navigate current social issues through a faith lens, which sophomore Tim Arifdjanov sees as an important step to growing in his faith.
“You could say that America is in a state of disunion currently, and that’s felt in our student body, and even within our faith,” Arifdjanov said. “I’m hoping that this initiative can help us achieve the central metaphor of One Body, which is for us to unite as a body. Where we value each part and recognize that the body doesn’t work without each part's function.”
The initiative will run for the majority of the fall semester and will be offered alongside masses on campus which are still continuing with updated COVID-19 safety measures.
Ajay Davis is a reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.